Swier History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Swier reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Swier family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Swier family lived at Swyre in Dorset. The surname Swier was originally derived from the Old English word "swoera" which means a "neck of land" or in other words, one who lives at the neck of land. [1]

Today Swyre is a coastal parish in Dorset, 6 miles south-east from Bridport [2] and dates back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as Suere. [3]

Interestingly, the Index of the Calendar of the Patent Rolls (1446-1452) Henry VI v.5. notes that Swyer was a variant of Squyer and further notes in the May 22 entry for Westminster 'gentilman' alias 'squyer,' so one could presume that the name was as many believe an early from the word 'squire' or 'gentleman.'

Furthermore, the same source notes that on November 13th in 1449, John Squyer of Notyngham (Nottingham) appeared before the court "and his fellows by the name John Swyer to answer..." questions about his debt to Alexander Galyard. The same source notes at least four more entries for the Squyer spelling.

Early Origins of the Swier family

The surname Swier was first found in Dorset at Swyre where they were descended from William d'Eu, Count of Eu, who was undertenant in Wiltshire and held the lands of Swyre (Latin: Tempore Regis Edwardi, English: during the reign of King Edward the Confessor) before the Norman Conquest in 1066. William of Swyre held those lands in 1086 at the taking of the Domesday Survey. [3]

Other early records include Geoffrey le Swyer who was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of Nottinghamshire in 1275 and John Swyer who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1297. [4]

Years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax records of 1379 listed: Ricardus Sqwyer; Thomas Swyer and Willelmus Swyer. [5]

Early History of the Swier family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swier research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1706, 1523, 1533 and 1825 are included under the topic Early Swier History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Swier Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Swyre, Svere, Swyer, Swyre, Swire, Squyer and others.

Early Notables of the Swier family (pre 1700)

Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swier Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Swier migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Swier name or one of its variants:

Swier Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Wouter Swier, aged 24, originally from Enkhuizen, Holland, who arrived in New York in 1907 aboard the ship "Noordam" from Rotterdam, Netherlands [6]
  • Pieter Swier, aged 29, originally from Boron Carspel, Holland, who arrived in New York in 1909 aboard the ship "Ryndam" from Rotterdam, Netherlands [7]
  • Jan Swier, aged 4, originally from Boron Carspel, Holland, who arrived in New York in 1909 aboard the ship "Ryndam" from Rotterdam, Netherlands [8]


The Swier Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Esse quam videri
Motto Translation: To be, rather than to seem.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JXK7-G2X : 6 December 2014), Wouter Swier, 20 Aug 1907; citing departure port Rotterdam, arrival port New York, ship name Noordam, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  7. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JXTX-82D : 6 December 2014), Pieter Swier, 16 Mar 1909; citing departure port Rotterdam, arrival port New York, ship name Ryndam, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  8. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JXTX-82J : 6 December 2014), Jan Swier, 16 Mar 1909; citing departure port Rotterdam, arrival port New York, ship name Ryndam, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


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